When a court orders child support payments to a parent, they almost always
order a wage garnishment. Wage garnishments act as a form of income withholding.
Part of the noncustodial parent’s paycheck goes towards paying the
other parent for living expenses for their child. Either the California
Franchise Tax Board or the local child support agency (LCSA) collects
child support. While seemingly straightforward, wage garnishment can affect
the lives of both the noncustodial parent and the other parent and child.
Who Withholds the Money?
As established by the California wage garnishment law, the noncustodial
parent’s employer will receive an order to deduct a court ordered
portion of that person’s paycheck. The employer will send money to the
State Disbursement Unit (SDU) to forward money to the custodial parent and the child. California defines
a person who pays earnings in exchange of services as an “employer.”
An “employee” is a person who performs these services for
When is the Money Withheld?
Once an employer receives the wage garnishment order, they have 10 days
in which to deduct money from the employee’s paycheck. After the
initial payment, the employer will need to deduct the appropriate amount
and send it to the SDU within seven days from when the wage was issued.
If the California Franchise Tax Board will handle the case, the employer
can send the child support to them. The SDU or the Tax Board will then
forward the money to the custodial parent and child.
When Can You Stop or Stay Wage Garnishments?
Only a few situations warrant a stop to wage garnishments because the law
requires the state to assign wage garnishments for child support orders.
To have wage assignments cancelled, the employee must follow specific
protocol. When the parent’s employer first receives the order, they
will give them a blank “Request for a Hearing Regarding Earning Assignment.” The parent can explain why they believe their wages should not
be deducted, through the form.
Reasons you can ask to cancel a wage garnishment include:
- If both parents have a prior agreement on how to handle child support payments
- You were not ordered to pay child support and are the wrong person
- You consistently made child support payments for the past 12 months without
- It would be in your child’s best interest to cancel the order
- The wage garnishment would cause unnecessary hardship
- You owe no back child support
A parent can also ask the court to put a “stay” or hold on
the wage garnishments. This will allow the noncustodial parent to pay
the child support without having to involve the employer.
Reasons you can ask to “stay” the wage garnishment include:
- The deduction in wages will cause undue hardships
- You have a history of paying support on time
- The support payments were undeliverable to the receiving party for 6 months
When Can I Ask to Have the Wage Garnishment Terminated?
Few circumstances will persuade a judge to terminate wage garnishment.
The reasons include:
- The child passed away
- The child emancipated from the parents
- The LCSA or your employer could not reach the custodial parent for more
than 6 months
Child support can be a contentious subject during a divorce proceeding.
If you believe your wage garnishment is incorrect or if you need help
handling the legal stipulations of child support, contact our board certified
family law specialist at James D. Madden & Aruna P. Rodrigo, Family Law Attorneys. We can help
review your case and find the best strategy to obtain your desired situation. Call our
San Bernardino child support lawyer today at 909-344-5704 for a free consultation.